prayer

Listen… Worship… Live (Part 3)

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In my sermon this past Sunday I closed with three words: Listen, Worship, Live. This week I will be taking time to write an individual post for each one of these disciplines to help you apply the Bible to your life.
Listen… Worship… Live (Part 1)

Listen… Worship… Live (Part 2)


When I was 16 years old I was arrested for drug possession and drug paraphernalia. Leading up to my arrest, I was writing and performing Christian music as well as speaking to youth groups about the Gospel. I literally got arrested one week after performing a song in a church that warned against the dangers of drug use!

In other words – I was a hypocrite.

My lifestyle did not match my confession of faith. Unfortunately this is far too common in our churches. Many of us confess that Jesus is Lord on Sunday but live as if He does not exist Monday through Saturday. We only follow the teachings of Jesus when it’s convenient for us.

This is not a modern problem. James, one of the leaders in the early church, exhorted people with the following instruction:

James 1:22-25
22 But be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 Because if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like someone looking at his own face in a mirror. 24 For he looks at himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of person he was. 25 But the one who looks intently into the perfect law of freedom and perseveres in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer who works—this person will be blessed in what he does.

Pay special attention to verse 25 (I have underlined it). James does not say that the one who looks intently at behavior modification will then be a “doer who works.” Rather, it is the one who looks intently into the “perfect law of freedom.” He is speaking about the Scriptures – the 66 books of the Old Testament and New Testament that God uses to encourage, correct, rebuke, and train His people for righteousness.

What steps can we take to make sure our lives match our confessions? How do we truly LIVE as followers of Christ?

1. Look intently at the Scriptures.
What James is describing is a far deeper reading of the Bible than we generally practice. For most of us, we spend a few minutes each day reading a passage or a chapter from the Bible. At the most, we spend a few minutes reflecting on the passage and considering its application for our lives. This is good – do not misunderstand me – but it is not enough to sustain us.

One good way to do this is to study a new book of the Bible every month. Read commentaries on the book, study the historical context, read/listen to sermons preached from the book. If you are part of Renovation Church, I encourage you to study the Gospel of John deeply. We are walking through it verse-by-verse on Sunday mornings so it would be a great way to “look intently” at the Scriptures!

2. Takes notes when you read the Bible!
James describes two kinds of people who read the Bible – the first is a “forgetful hearer” and the second is a “doer who works.” Friends, we are far too guilty of being forgetful hearers! We study a passage in the morning and by lunch time we cannot even recall what we read a few hours before.

The best way to transition from forgetfulness to memory is to write down what you learn in your Bible reading. I utilize the CSB Notetaking Bible. This is a special Bible that has large margins for the reader to take notes and write prayers. After studying a passage I try to respond to what God is saying by writing out my prayer to Him in this Bible. Another added benefit is I hope to give this Bible as a gift to Ava when she graduates high school. It will (Lord Willing) be marked up by personal prayer and reflections of mine from my daily Bible reading!

3. Rely on the power of the Holy Spirit.
This third point does not come from the text above but is a major theme throughout all of the Scriptures. When Jesus ascended to be with the Father, he sent the Holy Spirit to fill His people. He promised that “the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you (John 14:26).”

Please understand that you cannot make this transition through sheer will power. The ability to live out the Scriptures is a supernatural gift – it is the result of the Holy Spirit leading you daily to the River of Life. We should continually be pleading with the Holy Spirit to fill us so that we might treasure Christ over the meaningless distractions of this world.

If you are interested in learning more about studying the Bible in an effective way, I recommend the following book:
Reading The Bible Supernaturally – John Piper 

Listen. Worship. Live.

If you have found these blog posts helpful, I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or send me an e-mail (tyler@renovationchurchsd.com)

 

Listen… Worship… Live (Part 2)

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In my sermon this past Sunday I closed with three words: Listen, Worship, Live. This week I will be taking time to write an individual post for each one of these disciplines to help you apply the Bible to your life.
Listen… Worship… Live (Part 1)


We often associate “worship” with a particular music style. This has caused the church to shrink the magnitude of worship. By this definition, worship is something we do once a week when we gather with other Christians to sing a few songs. Singing IS a form of worship but it is only a tiny part of true worship.

One of the greatest theologians of the church, the Apostle Paul, described worship this way in Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship.

1. Worship is our response to God’s mercy.
Paul is urging the believers in Rome to offer their bodies as a living sacrifice IN VIEW of God’s mercy. Worship is how we respond to God’s initiative in our lives. In my previous blog post, I challenged you to set aside time to intentionally listen to God. Listening is required for worship – for worship is a response to our listening.

One of the best ways to do this is by practicing “lectio divina.” This is an ancient practice that literally means “divine reading.” It is the process of slowly reading and praying through the Scriptures. It transforms Bible reading from being a quest for information to a journey towards transformation. It allows Scripture reading to become a dialogue rather than a monologue.

You practice lectio divina by allowing the Scriptures to invite you into a conversation with God. You pray the prayers you find in the Bible, you thank God for his promises, and you meditate on His acts of faithfulness in your life.

2. Worship involves the totality of who you are.
Paul defines “true and proper worship” as offering our “bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God.” Worship is both a physical and a spiritual act. I have personally found it helpful to kneel on the ground when approaching God in prayer. This is an act of my body that helps my spirit remember that God is the Sovereign One of the universe. In comparison to God, I am but a mist that is here today and gone tomorrow. God is from everlasting to everlasting.

True worship engages our intellect and emotions… our minds and our hearts… our bodies and our spirits. Our theology (study of God) should always lead to doxology (the worship of God). Ultimately, worship is our response to God’s act of sending the Lord Jesus Christ to live a perfect life, die an atoning death, and resurrect from the grave for the redemption of the world.

So what does this actually mean? What does it look like for each of us to live a life of worship? 

First, it begins by listening to what God is saying. This is done by spending daily time in Scripture reading, silence, and solitude. After reading the Scriptures, spend a few minutes thanking God for what He has spoken to you. A helpful way to do this is by writing out a prayer of response. This can be extremely beneficial because your writings will provide you with a monument of your time with God. These prayers are moments with God that you can return to regularly to be reminded of His faithfulness.

All of life is worship. Your work, your family, your “free time” – all of it belongs to God. Is Jesus the Center and Sustainer of all that you do? Or are you ascribing worship to yourself rather than God? 

 

It’s Time For War

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This is the tenth post in a series of reflections based on Jared Wilson’s book “The Pastor’s Justification.”


As we move closer to transitioning the Garretson Campus to an independent church, I have noticed the subtle effects of spiritual warfare have been magnified. Small disagreements threaten to bring division, obstacles appear to be impossible to overcome, and discouragement attempts to reign over my thoughts.

God reminded me of a truth this week that has placed things into perspective: We are overthrowing the dark forces of evil in this community and we must expect resistance. It’s time to fall on our knees and storm the gates of hell with the weapon of prayer.

Jared Wilson explains what happens when the kingdom of darkness is pierced by the light of the Gospel:
“The Devil is like a rat in a jar that is filling with ether. We should expect that as his death gets ever-nearer, he will beat his claws more furiously against the glass… As the Gospel takes over your ministry and the kingdom of God grows in your church like yeast in dough, you can expect that our enemy will not go quietly.” 

As we enter into a season of warfare, here are three principles we must keep in mind:

1. People are not the enemy.
Even if people are the source of persecution, insults, or division – we must never attack the person as if they are the enemy. Paul makes it clear that our battle is not against flesh and blood, instead it is against the powers of darkness that wreak havoc in our communities (Ephesians 6:12).

We must rejoice when we are insulted, persecuted, or slandered. When this happens we know that our reward will be great for we are experiencing the same thing as the prophets and apostles who have gone before us (see Matthew 5:11-12). In retaliation for the offense, we must not be overcome with evil but rather overcome evil with good (Romans 12:21).

2. We fight FROM victory not for victory. 
When David conquered Goliath, the war was already won. The once trembling and fearful Israelites overwhelmed the Philistines and slaughtered them (1 Samuel 17). In the same way, Jesus has already disarmed Satan and all of his demons by triumphing over them through the cross (Colossians 2:15).

We are invited to follow our Warrior-King into battle – knowing that the victory is already secured. Satan may let out a furious scream but the ether of the Gospel will suffocate his power. We do not need to fight for the victory because the victory has already been achieved through Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection.

3. Our weapons will demolish strongholds.
Every community – especially rural ones – have demonic strongholds of addiction and false religion. These fortresses seem insurmountable but we must remember the weapons God has entrusted to us. We do not wage war with bullets, fire, or bombs. Instead, our weapons have been infused with a divine power to demolish strongholds, arguments, and every pretension that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Friends, commit to the Scriptures and prayer daily. We must renew our minds so that we do not conform to the toxic pattern of this world (Romans 12:1). If we submit our lives to God and resist the Devil he will flee from us (James 4:7). We must battle by laboring in intercession for our families, communities, and churches in order to crush the ugly face of the ancient serpent.

It’s time for war.

 

Goodbye Facebook.

FacebookGOodbye

I recently returned from a prayer retreat at St. John’s Abby. It was INCREDIBLE. Here is one of my journal entries from the trip… including one major change I am making in my life.


One of the reasons I embarked on this retreat was to wrestle with my use of social media. Although social media is not inherently wrong, it is exceedingly dangerous for the idolatrous soul of man. I have discovered in my own heart that the primary reason I engage in social media is to exalt myself. I desire to appear wise beyond my years & an expert in spirituality. I justify this with the claim that I am building a personal platform in order to gain greater influence for the Kingdom of God. Although this very well may be a proper motivation for some, I am afraid it is too often a smoke screen that hides the poison of pride.

Therefore – by the power of the Holy Spirit – I resolve to refrain from creating statuses, posting comments, or even scrolling through my newsfeed for the rest of 2017. I will only use the message feature for the pure reason of communication with those whose emails I lack. 

For the purpose of accountability, I will share this journal entry with my wife, staff, spiritual leaders, and through my website that many of my church members subscribe to. 

The Invisible War

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If you are a Christian, you are enlisted into an invisible war. When it comes to warfare, we need to develop tactics in order to be successful in the various skirmishes we will encounter each day. In order to better equip you for this, we will be spending time over the next few weeks to discuss spiritual warfare.

One of the most insightful passages on spiritual warfare was written by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:10-20. In the beginning of this section, Paul briefs us on the type of enemies we are facing –

“For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places.” – Ephesians 6:12

Specifically, I see three principles in this passage:

1. We are in a battle.
Many people believe the lie that when one becomes a Christian, life gets easier. The opposite is true the majority of the time. When you claim the name of Christ, there is a beast – his name is Satan – who wants to utterly crush you. His goal is to destroy every ounce of faith that resides within your soul. If you refuse to fight against this enemy, you will be thrown into ruin and torment.

2. The war is invisible.
The cohort of demons we fight against are entirely “other”. They rule over the unseen world which is all around us. Although we cannot see the physical appearance of our enemies, the effects of their warfare are visible in the destruction of churches and Christians around the world. They are fallen angels which have been cast down from the throne room of God to wreak havoc on the earth for a limited amount of time.

3. The enemy is incredibly powerful.
If we attempt to wage this warfare in our own strength, we will be utterly demolished by the great power of our enemies. As fallen angels, these evil spirits wield immense power to crush mankind. Those who foolishly rise up against the demonic world without the power and presence of Christ are destined to be annihilated by the mighty powers which rule the unseen world.


Over the next few weeks, we will be tackling the following questions:

  • How do we successfully wage war against this enemy?
  • What kind of weapons are available to us since the enemy is invisible?
  • What are specific tactics we can use to wage war offensively?
  • How exactly does the enemy fight against us? What weapons do they use?

My prayer is that this series would strengthen your faith, equip you for battle, and enable you to persevere in the midst of brutal, spiritual attacks against your faith.

Enjoy the post? Be sure to check out Part 2 – The Battle for Your Mind.

Behind the Song: Pray For ‘Em

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Undeniably, one of the major themes of the New Testament is praying for our enemies. Repeatedly, Jesus calls us to pray for and do good to those who persecute us. Although this teaching permeates all of Scripture, Christians fall short of this standard on a regular basis – myself included.

I believe a biblically faithful definition of an enemy is someone who is hostile towards you in thought, word, or deed.

When we are hurt by another person, we want to take revenge. Often, we are blinded by our rage and immediately strike out against the other person with poisonous words. We gossip and slander, hoping that our speech has the power to torment the person who hurt us.

My recent song, Pray For ‘Em, was inspired by the remarkable words Paul wrote to the church in Ephesus regarding forgiveness.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” – Ephesians 4:32

In order to fully understand this verse, we need to ask – HOW has God forgiven us?

Throughout Scripture, especially in the book of Romans, we see that mankind is depraved. Not only do we rebel against God, we are unable to even desire to please Him due to our sinful nature. Ultimately, we are born into this world as transgressors with consciences that have been dashed to futility by our sin.

Paul writes elsewhere that while we were yet ENEMIES, we were reconciled to God by the death and resurrection of Christ. (Romans 5:10).

You have offended, hurt, and maligned God far more than any human has done to you.

In the midst of our wickedness, Jesus lived the perfect life you and I CANNOT live and died a brutal death we DESERVE to die so that we can have eternal life. If we are to forgive others the same way God has forgiven us in Christ, then there is absolutely no room to hold bitterness, resentment, and unforgiveness in our hearts.

I pray that the Holy Spirit would use the Scriptures and my song below to free you from the cold chains of rebellion.

(If you are reading this in your e-mail, you will need to go to the actual page to hear the song.)

Verse 1 [Tyler Ramsbey]
Hurt people hurt people I remember that
So you can sling that dirt but Imma settle back
I know that it hurts but I will never grab
After my reputation cuz I’m dead to that
In other words I don’t need your applause
I don’t seek to please people I serve God
So Imma pray for you while your anger burns on
Even through the malice I promise that I will stand strong
I don’t think you get it well listen in for a moment
Understand my heart was frozen until my King overthrowed it
My entire life was broken deserving death I was hopeless
With every breath I was choking provoking the God who wrote it
I didn’t think I’d make it out alive
Till I heard about the God who willingly died
Took my sin upon the cross and given me life
I forgive cuz I’m forgiven I live in the light

Chorus [Sean Divine]
Sometimes we ain’t on the same page
We see it all a million ways
Our lives so different
In the end we’re just the same
You can throw dirt on me
Question the direction about my dreams
All Imma do is pray for em (pray for em)
All I can is pray for em (pray for em)

Verse 2 [Tyler Ramsbey]
I deserve death but He gave life
So with every breath Imma state my
Praise and adoration to the Most High
Let the jokes fly with all of the broke lies
Cuz I know in no time my God will crack the whole sky
And So I keep on praying if I’m persecuted
Father they don’t know what they are doing
I was once like you being influenced
By the god of this world all while my sins spewin
But He came and He changed me He went through it
Took my shame and the pain while I was still moving
Further from His presence but He still led me straight to Him
Uh, So who am I to hold a grudge
I’ve been forgiven for living with all my broken lust
I’m amazed at the grace that is holding us
See we forgive because we’re sick and yet we know His love

Chorus [Sean Divine]
Sometimes we ain’t on the same page
We see it all a million ways
Our lives so different
In the end we’re just the same
You can throw dirt on me
Question the direction about my dreams
All Imma do is pray for em (pray for em)
All I can is pray for em (pray for em)

Verse 3 [Tyler Ramsbey]
Uh, We need to rise above
Unforgiveness in your heart will make you die to love
You will be chained by the pain and it won’t lighten up
Until you free your soul, with the finest touch
Look, let us start an insurgence
So we can pray for the people who would burn this
Let’s take the values of the world and turn them
All the way around with sound love and purpose
If they hurt you let it turn to worship
Reflect Christ cuz your life has been purchased
And plus you didn’t earn this… So let your burdens
Fall to the Wordsmith and call on His Holy Name
No matter what they say, go ahead and show His fame
We gotta love our enemies until they know the same
Grace that we’ve tasted I pray this is getting through
Forgive others the same way He’s forgiven you

Chorus [Sean Divine]
Sometimes we ain’t on the same page
We see it all a million ways
Our lives so different
In the end we’re just the same
You can throw dirt on me
Question the direction about my dreams
All Imma do is pray for em (pray for em)
All I can is pray for em (pray for em)


Thanks for listening! If you enjoyed the song, be sure to share this post with your friends on Facebook and Twitter!

The God of the Ordinary

God of the orindary

When we think about God, our minds naturally drift to extraordinary events and supernatural power. There is nothing bad about this. All throughout Scripture, we see the Lord of the universe bending natural laws to flood the world with His incredible love.

Many people are desperately hungry to experience a supernatural move from God. We buy conference tickets, attend megachurches, go on mission trips, and try everything we possibly can to “experience” Him. First of all, let me state that none of those are inherently wrong. Conferences are good, large churches are good, mission trips are good. The flawed thinking presents itself when we forget to look for God in the ordinariness of life.

If you want to catch a glimpse of the God who reigns above the universe, open your eyes to the God of the ordinary!

1. God is revealed in creation.
Ultimately, everything that is created points to the beauty of a creator. When you marvel at an incredible piece of music, you gain a sense of awe towards the artist. In the same way, as we behold the indescribable beauty of creation, our hearts should be moved to a place of worship towards the God who made all things.

King David reflects on this truth in Psalm 19:1-4
“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the earth.”

As you feel the soft breeze wash over your face in the morning or gaze at the beauty of a sunset, let yourself be reminded of the Creator. Creation is the work of HIS hands and it is in these moments of awareness that we experience God. Take your eyes off your smart phone and look at the beautiful theater of life our God has placed around us!

2. God is revealed in people.
Scripture teaches that people are made in the very image of God for the purpose of reflecting his beauty and glory to the world. Every time you look into the eyes of a person, you are seeing someone whom God personally formed and knit together. When you experience the love of a spouse or the bond of a friendship, it is pointing to a greater love and stronger bond found in knowing God.

In C.S. Lewis’ classic book, The Weight of Glory, he puts it this way:
“There are no ordinary people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations – these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub, and exploit – immortal horrors or everlasting splendors.”

Take time in your day to actually SEE people. Contemplate on the fact that each person you come into contact with is a masterpiece formed by the Creator.

3. God is revealed in Scripture.
All of us yearn to hear God’s voice. Yet so often, our Bibles (if we have one) are covered with dust in the back of a neglected bookshelf. We often forget about one of the greatest gifts the Creator has endowed on His people. The Bible is a beautiful story of God’s love for sinful humanity.

Not only is the Bible a beautiful piece of literature, it is the Word of God. Scripture is not a lifeless, religious textbook. God presently speaks and encourages people through the power of His Word.

If you want to meet with the Creator, spend time on a daily basis soaking in the presence of His Spirit by meditating upon the Scriptures.


The God of the Universe desires to speak to us far more than we are willing to listen. I would encourage you to live each “ordinary” day with eyes wide open, catching glimpses of God in creation, people, and Scripture.